Average draft positions based off of ESPN.
RB Arian Foster (Houston)
As his blocking has declined from great to above average to average over the past 3 seasons, as he’s lost his starting right guard, starting right tackle, and starting fullback, Foster has seen his YPC drop from 4.9 to 4.4 to just 4.1 last season. Now his body appears to be breaking down after 1115 regular season touches (and 128 post-season touches) and it appears a given he’ll split carries with talented backup Ben Tate early in the season, at the very least. There are better uses of your first round pick.
QB Peyton Manning (Denver)
Quarterbacks in general are being drafted too high this year. You can get a very solid quarterback in the mid rounds. For instance, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are the 10th and 11th quarterbacks off the board this season. It’s not just Manning. Tom Brady and Matt Ryan are among the quarterbacks that are getting drafted too high, but I’m singling out Manning because he’s being drafted way too high as the 14th player off the board on average. Sure, he could improve on last season with the addition of Wes Welker, but he’s also a 37 year old who has had 4 neck surgeries in his career. It’s more likely that he regresses off the 2nd best season of his career, at least in terms of QB rating.
RB Steven Jackson (Atlanta)
Steven Jackson is going into his age 30 season and has 2395 career carries. That fuel tank could be running on empty. He’s 26th all-time in rushing yards at 10,135, but the average top-25 all-time running back has his last 1000 yard season in his age 30 season and at 2602 carrier carries. And after players have their drop off, they average just 169 carries per season at 3.5 yards per carry and just 5 touchdowns, so they’re really a non-factor as a back. He should have one more good year in him, but that’s just an average. I wouldn’t want to risk it at this point.
WR Wes Welker (Denver)
Even Wes Welker admits that if he has to catch the 112 passes he averaged per season in New England, the Broncos are in trouble. The Broncos have a much more diverse receiving corps than New England did with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker so they won’t feature Welker nearly as much as he was featured in New England. He’s also never been a touchdown threat, averaging 6 touchdowns per season in New England. That’s unlikely to change with the 6-3 Decker and 6-4 Thomas lining up on the outside in Denver, not to mention the bevy of tight ends the Broncos have.
WR Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis)
Wayne turns 35 this November. Over the next 2-4 years, Wayne can be expected to go from top flight receiver to complementary player to gone. That’s just what happens to receivers around this age. Even the average top-20 receiver (in terms of yardage all-time) has his last 1000 yard season at age 34-35, averages 48 catches for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns for 2 more seasons after age 34-35, and is done playing by age 36-37. Wayne already showed some signs of slowing down in the 2nd half of last season, catching “just” 45 passes for 520 yards and 2 touchdowns. He could have another big year (he proved me wrong last year when I brought up this same narrative), but let him be someone else’s problem. He’s not worth the risk at his current ADP, as the 15th wide receiver off the board.
QB Robert Griffin (Washington)
I mentioned quarterbacks in general are being taken too high this year, but Griffin, like Manning, deserves special mention. I’m not too excited about drafting a quarterback who gets most of his fantasy value from running the football 8 months after tearing his ACL. The Redskins will cut down on his designed runs (as they were down the stretch last season after he started getting hurt) and his throwing could suffer as a result.
RB Montee Ball (Denver)
John Fox hates rookies. He also loves running back committees and hates fantasy football. Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball, and Ronnie Hillman will all see touches. Ball has some upside if he can take the job and run with it, but it’s not worth the headache as a RB2 or flex, which is what he’s being drafted as right now.
WR Mike Wallace (Miami)
Mike Wallace proved he cared more about his own financial interests than the success of the team last off-season with an extended holdout that caused him to be a shell of his former self. He caught 64 passes (55.2% of his targets) for 838 yards and 8 touchdowns. Now he jumped ship to a team with an inferior quarterback for a giant contract. He could just coast. He’s being drafted as a mid-level WR2. He’s not one.
TE Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta)
Sure, Tony Gonzalez could be fantasy football’s #3 scoring tight end again. He could even be the #2 scoring tight end, considering one of the two tight ends who scored more points than him last season also happens to be one of the biggest injury mysteries in the game in Rob Gronkowski. However, Gonzalez is also going into his age 37 season and had one foot into retirement this off-season so he just as likely could not. There’s no upside with him at all at his current ADP as the 2nd tight end off the board.
WR James Jones (Green Bay)
James Jones isn’t scoring on 22% of his catches again this season. He probably won’t even catch 64 passes for 784 yards again. Jordy Nelson will be healthier and Randall Cobb will have a bigger role. Jones was incredibly inefficient last season on a per route basis considering who his quarterback was. He averaged just 1.29 yards per route run, 66th out of 81 eligible wide receivers. He’s getting drafted as a borderline WR2 right now, ahead of Jordy Nelson, which is absolutely absurd.
TE Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota)
Another guy who has inflated value because of touchdowns, Kyle Rudolph scored on 9 of 53 catches, 17%, last season. At first glance, that doesn’t seem that absurd, especially in comparison in James Jones, but remember that Rudolph also happens to play on arguably the worst passing offense in the NFL. Those 9 touchdowns were half of his team’s total. He had just 493 receiving yards last season and he’s not a consistent week to week tight end as along as Christian Ponder is under center.
Seahawks D/ST (Seattle)
This goes for any defense being drafted before the final 2 or 3 rounds, but Seattle’s ADP is the highest in the 6th round. Seattle has a great defense and they could easily lead all defenses in scoring, but you’d be just as well off playing the matchups on a week to week basis as you would drafting Seattle. The Bears led all defenses in fantasy points last season, scoring 13.3 points per game. Meanwhile, the average defense facing the league’s worst offense, Arizona, scored 14.2 points per game. Sure, you’re not always going to be able to pick up the defense faces the worst offense, but the bottom-5 offenses all surrendered an average of 11 or more fantasy points per game last season, which coincidentally is right around what Seattle averaged last season. You can get the equivalent of a top level fantasy defense by playing the matchups and for the price of a 14th or 15th rounder, not a 6th rounder.
WR Tavon Austin (St. Louis)
Since 2005, 28 receivers have gone in the 1st round. They’ve averaged 40 catches for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns per season. Tavon Austin isn’t AJ Green or Julio Jones. Don’t fool yourself.
K Stephen Gostkowski (New England)
Singling out Gostkowski because he’s the first kicker on the board, but don’t take any kicker before the last round. Just don’t. They’re too random. Gostkowski is going in the 9th round on average, which is 7 rounds too early.
QB Michael Vick (Philadelphia)
Sure he looks great in the pre-season, but he’s also been on the steady decline over the past 2 seasons and a predictable decline at that. Vick is more reliant on his physical abilities than any quarterback in the last decade so it’s no surprise he’s aging like a running back or wide receiver. It’s a deep year for quarterbacks so he’ll score like a QB2 when he plays, without the reliability that you want out of a backup quarterback, as he’s played between 10-13 games in every season with the Eagles and only once played all 16 games in his career. I don’t even have him on my board, but he’s going in the 9th round on average.